Southwest Health is prepared to ensure the smartest, strongest response to an outbreak in our area because when each of us does our part, nothing happens. You don’t get sick, and neither do others. That’s the best thing that can happen.
How does COVID-19 spread?
Experts find out more each day. Right now, we know it is spread:
- by droplets from an infected person coughing or sneezing
- between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
How severe is COVID-19?
Much is still being learned about the possible range of illness from this virus. Mild illness (like a common cold) to severe pneumonia-like illness that need hospital care have all be reported.
Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. People at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider early, even if their illness is mild.
What are the symptoms?
People with Coronavirus (COVID-19) may have any of these symptoms appear within as few as 2 days. Often, symptoms take longer to appear. As many as 14 days. If your symptoms are light, you don’t need to see a doctor.
When to call your doctor: If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your clinic for advice.
If you develop EMERGENCY WARNING SIGNS for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Talk with your medical provider about any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
What’s the risk?
Right now (as of April 22, 2020), the risk to the general public here in southwest Wisconsin remains significant and real. This is not a time to let our guard down. We must all assume EVERYONE may carry the virus, and many of us may be sick and not know it. For that reason, we recommend wearing a cloth or homemade face mask when going out. Wearing masks helps prevent the spread of coronavirus.
There will be more cases in our area, and we need EVERYONE to do their part to prevent the spread of this illness (see below on how you can protect yourself and others).
Coronavirus is NOT specific to any ethnic group. This illness can make anyone sick. Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 can wrongly cause people to avoid or reject others over concerns of spreading the virus.
- Wash your hands often (very often) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use care to wash them well.
- Please be especially sure to wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, going to the bathroom, and before eating or making food.
- Avoid touching your face without first washing your hands. Don’t pick your nose or put your fingers in your mouth (or near your eyes) without washing your hands. Buy some tissues, and if you have an itch or need to touch your face without first washing your hands, use a tissue.
- Sneeze into the crook of your arm, not into your hands.
- Think carefully about the dangers of travel. If you must travel, check the CDC (U.S. Center for Disease Control) website for the latest info on where you’re going.
- One of the most important steps you can take is staying away from crowds or groups of people. Keep your distance whenever you can: six feet or more. Staying 6 feet or more from others helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.
What if you feel sick?
- If you have flu symptoms (fever, runny nose, headache, and cough) see your doctor. And if there’s any reason you believe it could be Coronavirus, call ahead and be sure the staff at the office know about your symptoms and why you’re concerned. They can best prepare if they know ahead of time.
- Stay home when you are sick. Stay home from work but also stay home from other places you may spread your illness to others. This is very important in stopping the spread of this virus.
- Thinking about coming to the ER or Urgent Care? Please call the hospital first at 608-348-2331. Please understand, not everyone is tested for COVID-19. There are other tests done first to rule out other very common upper respiratory illnesses. We are not performing COVID-19 testing on everyone who comes in with symptoms.
- Disinfect and clean your home. Use alcohol or other disinfecting wipes to clean surfaces and areas people touch, especially where you eat. Anyone who is ill should stay separated in a different room (and different bathroom, if possible) from those who are not.
- Avoid all contact with others, staying at least 6 feet from everyone you can.
- Disinfect surfaces in your home, paying close attention to those you touch the most (keyboard, remote, countertops, tables and chair arms, etc.)
What should I worry about now?
- Worrying does not help, and making others worry is worse yet. But you can plan. You can get ready for what may happen IF the virus comes closer to home. Taking action now, not only prepares you but also helps you deal with worry in a healthier way.
- Talk with the people you live with and people close to you. Plan for what they might need should they get sick.
- Coronavirus is more serious for older folks. Take their needs into account and talk with elderly family, friends, and neighbors.
- Make a list of contacts for each of your people above. For each, include contact info for their doctor or other health care providers, their family and closest friends, their employer, and anyone else important to them.
- Choose a room in your home that can be used to separate people who are sick from those who are not. If Coronavirus comes to your doorstep, keep anyone with the virus separated from those without it. This includes, where possible, bathrooms, too.